Last night the breeze began to build. Tree branches danced to and fro. It rained overnight. This last summer morning, the warm season is letting us know she is not happy to have to step aside. Her winds tell us so.
This evening fall will officially arrive. The equinox is said to yield equal number of daylight and dark hours.
But as daylight hours dwindle, we have something pleasant to witness. The earth brings out her colors.
Today’s superstar is the full moon, and this one is being hailed as the longest lunar eclipse of the century!
That’s a lot of hype. Sadly, the eclipse won’t be visible in the United States, because it takes place during daylight here. But it should be exciting for people in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America, who should see a reddish moon.
That’s where the name Blood Moon comes in. Any moon in eclipse typically looks reddish, so it’s always called a Blood Moon.
The July full moon is also called the Buck Moon, referring to the time that deer start to shed their antlers. Other names for the July moon are Thunder Moon and Hay Moon.
Whatever we call it, our moon is deeply tied to our rhythms and cultures on earth.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise came to Seattle recently for a visit. The ship was touring the Salish Sea and working with the Puyallup Nation to raise awareness about a liquefied natural gas facility being built in Tacoma, the ancestral lands of the Puyallup. The LNG plant and the Trans Mountain Pipeline threaten the health of the Salish Sea, the waters that surround Tacoma, Seattle, and up into Canada.
Arctic Sunrise is one of three Greenpeace ships that ply the waters worldwide; the other two are the Rainbow Warrior and Esperanza.
While they take actions to protect our marine ecosystems, they also visit ports to meet local people, learn about their environmental issues and educate people about actions they can take to make their communities healthier and more sustainable.
Three years earlier, I had a memorable experience visiting the flagship of Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior, when it stopped in Seattle. So, I was excited to learn that the Arctic Sunrise was coming!
An ironic tale told by a crew member: the ship was once a whaling boat! It became available for sale, and Greenpeace eyed it for a new fleet addition. The seller refused to sell it to a group that fights whaling. Greenpeace set up a third party to buy the boat, and the deed was accomplished! Hurrah!
The ship is an icebreaker, has a “rounded keelless hull” (for those of you who like tech specs), and can land a helicopter.
From the Greenpeace website:
In 1997, The Arctic Sunrise became the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic, a previously impossible journey until a 200m thick ice shelf connecting the island to the Antarctic continent collapsed. This was just one of the many signs of climate change which the Arctic Sunrise has helped document.
In 1999, a Japanese whaling ship rammed the Arctic Sunrise while Greenpeace was peacefully protesting its illegal whaling around Antarctica. Fortunately, no crew members were injured.
Aside from their own research, Greenpeace sometimes assists scientists with accessing remote areas.
In 2009, the ship supported a researcher from Cambridge University who was documenting changes in Arctic ice volumes and thickness, as part of climate change studies.
Greenpeace is known for hanging large banners at protests and confronting illegal whaling, but the staff is also respected for conducting serious scientific research. I volunteered in the Washington, DC, office many years ago, and I know how dedicated the staff is.
If you ever get a chance to visit a Greenpeace vessel, I highly recommend it!
Less than 100 years after Americans won independence from the British, way up in the Pacific Northwest, a little-known squabble took place between the two. In the late 1800s, Americans and British soldiers averted actually firing on each other.
A Bucolic Setting
San Juan Island, sections of which today are part of a National Historical Park, had a pleasant temperate climate, and farming, fishing and timber opportunities that appealed to several nations. In the 1800s, it had been visited but not yet claimed. Eventually, ships from England and the U.S. mainland brought military contingents to occupy the territory. Both staked claims to the island and in 1859 they agreed to jointly occupy the island, separated at the 49th parallel, until the water boundary could be settled.
The Land Divided
English Camp occupied the northwest end, while American Camp occupied the southern tip. Soon, British-owned Hudson’s Bay Company located a large sheep farming operation there. In time, other farm animals and agricultural operations were added. The large Belle Vue Sheep Farm was a strategic move on the part of the British to fully establish their claim to the land.
Underlying tensions persisted between the two. The Americans tried to tax Hudson’s Bay but no taxes were paid. Though both countries had military camps at opposite ends of the island, things remained relatively calm between the two communities. Officers and their families even visited with each other.
Changes in the Wind
Summer 1859, everything changed. An American settler shot and killed a pig belonging to the Hudson’s Bay Company. He claimed that the pig had wandered onto his property and, therefore, he shot the trespasser. Though the pig’s owner, who ran the HBC operation, made little fuss about the incident, things escalated rapidly. The time is known as the Pig War crisis. Tensions continued to simmer, with more and more American settlers coming to the island, many squatting on HBC land.
The British wanted the American settlers removed from the island, but American officials said no way. British warships sailed to the harbor, while troops at both camps multiplied. Both sides stood their ground but no war ensued.
Finally, the disputed water boundary went to arbitration by a third party – Germany. An arbitration panel settled the boundary between Canada and the island, and the San Juan Islands became American possessions. In 1871, the United States and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Washington, and a year later the British left the island.
The Pig War had ended diplomatically and peacefully.
Today, little remains of the two camps but visitors can wander their spectacular landscapes.